Sunday, July 25, 2010


Tipping Outhouses

Halloween to Indiana farm kids doesn’t mean going around from house to house yelling, “Trick or Treat !” cause the nearest neighbor may be a half mile away. If you’re a teenage kid, you’re bored cause there must be something a kid can do on Halloween other than staying home at night and listening to the radio. That’s why a bunch of us got together to tip over outhouses.

Now, if you’re a city kid or you were born after World War 2 then you should know that an “outhouse” means an outdoor toilet. First a big hole was dug real deep and then they’d build a little house right over the top of the hole. When you go inside of an outhouse be prepared to hold your breath for as long as you can cause it’s like smelling everybody’s poop piled up for the past two months. Inside, there’s usually one or two toilet seats…come to think of it I don’t know why anyone would want to go in and sit next to someone else when they’re doing their business, but the two seaters were real popular. Way back in the real old days everybody didn’t use toilet paper, they used pages from a catalog. You can imagine how scratchy that was ! Even back then people liked to sit and read, but I would have run out of holding my breath. To keep the place clean people would pour a white powder lime or lye down the holes once in a while. Sometimes, if the outhouse was used a lot where it started to fill up, the hole was filled in and the outhouse moved to a new location.

Two school bus drivers lived near one another. The bus driver for the elementary school was Jim and the bus driver for the high school was Ernie. Ernie smoked a cigarette while he was driving. Sometimes the ash on his cigarette would be real long, but he’d keep on puffin’ on that cigarette. When the two school buses would pass one another, Ernie would hold up his hand. Jim would fly by in his yellow bus, but Ernie wouldn’t put his hand down until maybe a mile further down the road. One time Ernie backed the bus up into a snow bank and the tires started spinning. “Wait a minute, Ernie. We’ll get it !” and all high school boys got out. Ernie thought we were helping to push the bus out of the ditch, but we were holding the bus so it kept on spinning tires and throwing muddy snow. Pretty soon, Ernie really put on the gas and pulled us and the bus out of the ditch. He smiled and thanked us for helping. So it just made sense that if we were going to tip over outhouses, we’d have to go to Ernie and Jim’s houses on Halloween night.

Ernie’s house was first and we were like a troop of commandos on a night raid. If someone would have thought of putting black on our faces, we probably would have done it. There was about five or six of us all creeping up on Ernie’s outhouse trying to be silent, yet still carrying on a conversation. Ernie and his family must have been sound sleepers cause we were talking up a storm. “Alright everybody push !” The thing swayed a bit, but stayed where it was. This was going to be harder than we expected. Finally, someone took command of our group and called out, “One, two, three…push !” and it started going over. Kenny’s foot slipped and he almost fell in the hole. We were all laughing so hard we almost had to let the building go back on its foundation, but a final “PUSH !” and over it went. We ran back to the prearranged meeting spot and laid down on the grass laughing so hard at the thought of Kenny drowning in that hole of….well you know. Then we took on a real belly buster of a laugh thinking of how Ernie would head out to his outhouse to go and all he’d find was a big smelly hole. Now it was time to get over to Jim’s place and see his outhouse.

We had to sneak in from the rear on this one and be real quiet cause the lights were still on in Jim’s house. No loud talking you guys. “Alright,” whispered instructions, “this time let’s do it on three again.” He counted as we pushed. Maybe it was that they counted while I pushed, cause on three that thing didn’t move an inch. Kenny saw the foundation. “He’s got this thing bolted down on cement blocks. We aren’t never going to….” BAM ! Jim came out on the back porch and fired his shot gun. We found out later that Ernie had called Jim to warn him about kids tipping over outhouses and Jim was waiting for us. We all took off running in the dark in the best direction, which was out of there. Jim was yelling something and swearing as he fired a second time with his double barreled shot gun. This time you could hear little bee-bees hitting the leaves of the trees just over our heads. We ran right by the meeting spot. I don’t think any of us stayed around to laugh together about what just happened. Ron told me the next day that he ran into Jim’s clothes line and it swept him off his feet, but he got up and ran again as soon as Jim shot the second time. Ron had a sore neck for a few days and his talk was sort of raspy, but he got over it. We both laughed at the thought of Kenny almost falling in that hole.

That was the last Halloween prank we did cause the next year we graduated and Kenny and Ron joined the National Guard and were sent off to Korea.

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